“When we vacation, we like to get out and see the beauty of wherever we are. We're in our early 30s and in pretty good shape so long walks or hikes are perfect. We've heard great things about the wine and cheese in the Azores so visiting wineries or dairies would be pretty interesting too. Climbing Pico is definitely on our list, maybe even overnight.”
Cátia Chaves, a local specialist from the Azores, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary.
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Trip planning highlights
Active Azores Experience
The tours and hotels that the travel partner arranged for were excellent. I was very pleased with the individual tour operators. There was a massive breakdown in communication between the tour company that I was communicating with and the tour provider due to the fact that there were two or three companies in between them. The meeting times on our trip vouchers did not always match the meeting times on our overall itinerary. The tour operators called us the "ghost clients" because they didn't have any information about us and didn't even know if we were real clients.
This was most problematic on the mountain climbing tour because the tour operator provides a document to participants instructing them on equipment and supplies that they are supposed to bring. We were lucky to have the operator for a different tour so she was able to send us the document the night before our climb. We were told that lunches would be provided on full-day tours, but this was not the case for the mountain climb. We had gone to a market earlier and just brought whatever food we had. We brought hiking equipment that was sufficient for the climb, but that was purely by chance. The tour company also needed our passport numbers to register us with the government as climbers and to get us insurance for the climb. Nobody told us about this and i happened to have a copy of our passports. If not, we wouldn't have been able to climb.
Had we not met with the tour guide the day before, we would have been unable to complete the climb (other people were not permitted to climb if they were not properly outfitted).
Another tour only had the name of the third party travel agency and not our names, ages, or nationality. After the other tour issues, we went to the tour provider the evening before our tour and they were ecstatic because this allowed them to put us in the correct group with other people who spoke english.
On another day, our transfer from the port to our hotel was not there when our ferry arrived so we walked to the hotel.
The next day, our guide for the full-day tour was not at the hotel at either of the times we were provided (tour voucher and itinerary had different times). We tried calling the number listed on the voucher, but it was the number for another travel company who the kimkim travel partner had booked through. We found a poster for the tour provider and managed to get in touch with her. The third party tour company had told her that we would be arriving that day and she should pick us up at the port, not our hotel.
Overall, i used kimkim because i wanted the tour planning and booking process to go more smoothly. Due to the multiple layers of tour companies between us and the eventual tour operators, there was a tremendous lack of communication. I imagine the multiple layers also added cost. Were it not for proactive steps that we took during the trip, this could have spiraled into a complete disaster.
There were small errors that i picked up on during the planning process. There were the mismatched tour times. It's hard to say whether some of the other issues were her fault or whether it was further down the chain. If she had directly booked things for me, the way i thought this would work, it would be easier to determine where the breakdown occurred.